He who smelt it dealt it and DC is dealing it out with Harley Quinn Annual #1. If you hadn’t heard, this issue’s selling point is rub and smell, with one scent being of the “herbal” kind. Read on to see if this issue is a contact high or one silent, stinky whiff.
HARLEY QUINN ANNUAL #1
Writer: Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: John Timms, Stjepan Sejic, Joe Quinones, Ben Caldwell, Kelley Jones
Letterer: John J. Hill
Colorist: Paul Mounts, Rico Renzi, Michelle Madsen
Editor: Chris Conroy
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $5.99
Previously in Harley Quinn: Harley’s been running her own apartment building, stopping assassins and getting into all kinds of trouble. Along the way she’s hung out with Poison Ivy, her best friend in the whole world. Now Ivy is in trouble and it’s Harley’s job to help.
THAT’S RIGHT, I SNIFFED IT. I’M NOT ASHAMED!
I’ll come right out and say it: The main reason I bought this issue was because of the scent gimmick, specifically the marijuana. Ethics of drug usage aside, I wanted to know how the hell DC would pull this off and just what the excuse could be to put the smell of marijuana in a comic book. It’s a wacky-do idea and one that is fitting for Harley Quinn. Throughout the issue a tiny Harley points out areas for the reader to rub and sniff. We are lucky enough to smell Harley’s leather jacket, body lotion and pizza burps among all things. And of course the selling point, the weed. That particular scent isn’t actually marijuana, rather an experimental chemical that gets broken and causes the characters to hallucinate. I was impressed with how well the effect worked and eager to see just what the next smell would be. Midway through though, I realized I was focused more on sticking my nose to the page than the story. After a second, no sniff read, I found the story enjoyable but quite silly. It boils down to Harley saving Ivy from mind control, fighting two scientists which results in a chemical being released and the characters hallucinating. There is some good humor and Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti continue to nail the tone of what a Harley series should be. The hallucination sequences are the best parts, providing all manner of crazy and the issue’s villain is insane, and not in a mental way. The majority of the issue fills like filler and the writing gets so cheesy in its need to sneak in items to sniff that the dialogue could be summed up as “Hey look! It’s [insert object to be smelt here].” While the story is fun, the gimmick overshadows the story, causing too much of it to feel forced.
A BETTER MIX OF TALENT THAN SMELLS
John Timms handles the main story while the guest artists each do a hallucination/dream sequence. All of the artists do a fantastic job and the art is the best part of the issue by far. Even with the different styles they’re cohesive and make the issue feel like one big Looney Tunes cartoon. It works well with the book’s silly, light-hearted tone and is one thing I’ve appreciated about the Harley Quinn title. Having a fun book from DC is a nice change of pace and Harley Quinn is a good palate cleanser from much of the doom and gloom. The bright and colorful work continues with this annual and I’m glad to see the title has been consistent in this area.
BOTTOM LINE: SOMEONE RIPPED A LOUD ONE
Harley Quinn Annual #1 is the equivalent to a loud fart. It’s funny, smelly but once the initial fun and amusement wear off, it’s gone and forgettable. I had fun with the issue but found that the gimmick of sniffing the pages as well as anticipating the weed scent overshadowed my following of the story. Once you actually pay attention, much of the book is filler and an excuse to service the selling point. The artwork is fantastic and blends with the story nicely, making it the best element of the issue. It isn’t worth spending $5.99 on a comic with mediocre story just to smell pot though. I can usually work a day at the store, have someone come in smelling like it and smell it for free. I’d probably get the same looks I got while sniffing the comic too.